Fitness Facts: Arthritis
By Connie Colbert
Director, Canyon Health and Wellness Clinic
Arthritis is the swelling and tenderness of one or more of your joints. The main symptoms of arthritis are joint pain and stiffness, which typically worsen with age. There are several types of arthritis, but the most common are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
The most common signs and symptoms of arthritis involve the joints in the body. Depending on the type of arthritis you have, your signs and symptoms may include:
- Limited range of motion of affected joint
Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis, affecting millions of people worldwide. It occurs when the cartilage that cushions the ends of your bones wears down over time.
Osteoarthritis can damage any joint. The disorder most commonly affects joints in your hands, knees, hips and spine.
Osteoarthritis symptoms usually can be managed although the damage to joints can’t be reversed. Staying active, maintaining a healthy weight and undergoing some treatments might slow progression of the disease and help improve pain and joint function.
The symptoms of osteoarthritis often develop slowly and worsen over time. Signs and symptoms of osteoarthritis include:
- Affected joints might hurt during or after movement.
- Joint stiffness might be most noticeable upon awakening or after being inactive.
- Your joint might feel tender when you apply light pressure to or near it.
- You might not be able to move your joint through its full range of motion.
- You might feel a grating sensation when you use the joint, and you might hear popping or crackling.
- Swelling in the joint. This might be caused by soft tissue inflammation around the joint.
- You may form hard lumps, known as bone spurs, around the affected joint(s).
Osteoarthritis can damage any joint but most commonly affects joints in your hands, knees, hips and spine.
Rheumatoid arthritis, known as RA, is an autoimmune and inflammatory disease, which means that your immune system attacks healthy cells in your body by mistake, causing inflammation (painful swelling) in the joints.
RA mainly attacks the joints, usually many joints at once. RA commonly affects joints in the hands, wrists and knees. In a joint with RA, the lining of the joint becomes inflamed, causing damage to joint tissue and thus pain. This tissue damage can cause long-lasting or chronic pain, lack of balance and deformities.
RA also can affect other tissues throughout the body and cause problems in organs such as the lungs, heart and eyes.
Rheumatoid arthritis most often results in warm, swollen and painful joints. Pain and stiffness often worsen following rest. Most commonly, the wrist and hands are involved, with the same joints typically involved on both sides of the body.
Additional symptoms may include:
- Weight loss
- Fatigue or tiredness
If you have been experiencing any of these symptoms, please visit your health care provider to discuss a possible treatment plan. The earlier you are on a treatment plan, the better outcome you will have.